This past weekend, I had many of you email me and text me asking where I was. Each year I get away for a time to pray over and plan out future sermons. I’ve done this in many locations over the years - a cabin in the mountains in Tennessee, a lake house, on a college campus, God has always been so good leading us where He wants us to go. But every week, the texts and sermons we preach at Forum arise out of this endeavor. It’s a great joy and simultaneously a great challenge.
I changed it up this year by going to Phoenix, AZ. My son, Parker, is doing his MA out there working in a residency program with Christ Church of the Valley. Over 30,000 people gather weekly to worship the Lord connected to that ministry.
Further, I have many friends who lead megachurches in that area. So (being the compulsive person that I am), this past Saturday and Sunday I attended 6 different church services at 4 different ministries on 5 different church campuses (Christ Church of the Valley - Avondale Campus, Chandler Christian Church, Central Christian Church - Gilbert Campus, The Grove - Chandler Campus, CCV Midtown Campus, and then back to CCV - Avondale Campus). All of these are thriving and growing churches.
After the experience, I made some observations that I think you’ll find interesting:
1. The Sunday morning services I attended (except for the super early service) were packed houses.
2. The parking lots were jammed and it was hard to find a space.
3. The Bible was being taught with relevance.
4. The “you are loved and welcomed here” attitudes are evident.
5. Facilities were designed with families in mind. Outdoor play areas, courtyards, outdoor basketball courts in between some of the buildings, as well as small cafes, were all part of the ministries. I will admit - I am very jealous of the open campuses that churches in the south, the southwest, and California can do. Our weather simply isn’t conducive for that.
6. The kingdom of God is advancing.
I hope most of this sounds familiar because it’s also what God is doing here at Forum. Church health. Church growth. The Bible being taught. A desire to reach people. Vision. God uses His church - His kingdom - to advance the saving message of Jesus Christ.
This Sunday we continue talking about His Story. We’ll explore one of the most important yet under talked about realities in the kingdom of God. Specifically, we’re focusing on God’s Holy Spirit. There’s so much misunderstanding connected to this part of God and how God lives in us.
It’s time change Sunday - which is actually one of my personal favorite Sundays. I know we “lose” an hour of sleep (not if you go to bed an hour earlier) as we spring forward. But “spring forward” implies spring.
I love the metamorphosis and change of spring. That which is dormant comes alive. That with latent potential (seeds, bulbs, etc.) comes to life. Change is all around us. Reminds me of coming alive in Christ and His transformative power at work in us. Looking forward to another great Sunday.